Friday, June 4, 2010

China: One week done, Five weeks to go

One week of classes are over with already! Five more to go!

I've already had two Mechanics of Materials problem sets (which are finished now) and two writting assignments.  My first exam is already next Tuesday - YIKES!

One of the writing assignments is a memo for my team project (not started yet, eek) and the other is a "blog" entry of my observations for each week I'm here.  I thought I'd post my blog entries for class here as well, even though i talked about some of it already:


Blog Entry - Week 1
The Troubles of Being Vegan in China

When I first became vegan for the sake of my health and well-being, there was a long period of discovery.  I slowly found restaurants that had tasty vegan options, I discovered stores that have a wider variety of non-processed foods and relied more on my own cooking skills.  However, in this carnivorous world, when I leave my safety circle of vegan-goodness and end up in a tiny dorm with no kitchen in the middle of China, I am blind on where to find good food.  Adding a foreign language in the mix doesn't make it any easier!

Being able to find (good) food was one of my main concerns about this trip to China.  This anxiety was reinforced during the first few days of my travels.  On the 14-hour plane ride to Shanghai, I had the opportunity to put the airplane barf bags in use - I had gotten food poisoning before touching down in China!

After landing safely in Shanghai, with the majority of my GI track intact, I crashed the moment I walked into my hotel room.  My insides were no longer angry, but I found that I had no appetite.  I made sure to eat to keep my energy, but was not pleased to find that most of the food was greasy and salty.  By the time we were on our way to Hangzhou, my concern about finding good things to eat was increasing exponentially.

The second night in my little dorm here in Hangzhou, I still didn't have an appetite.  Not only was the greasy food not agreeing with my stomach, but I was also worried about being vegan will affect me socially on this trip.  I wanted to go do things with people, but whenever it involved food I ended up being ore of an observer.  I realized there was only one thing to do - start building up a new circle of vegan-goodness.  It may take a while, but there is bound to be good foor for a vegan somewhere around here.

The next day we got to explore Hangzhou and West Lake for the first time.  I had a blast - the lake and surrounding scenery were breathtaking.  Lunchtime rolled around and five of us decided to try a noodle place that was next to the cafeteria on campus.  I wasn't expecting to be able to eat anything, having no way to ask for noodles without eggs or meal, but Will jumped in to help.

Honestly Will, if you ever read this, trumpets sounded. You are awesome.

After speaking to one of the men there for at least five minutes, he successfully ordered me fried noodles with just veggies - no meat or eggs.  Even though I still did not have much of an appetite, it was delicious.  These noodles, and Will's help, ended up being the turning point of my vegan worries.

From then on, I have been able to get a wider variety of foods, thanks to continuous help from Will.  I also found some whole wheat bread, peanut butter and banas, which I have been eating for breakfast.  This breakfast has built my appetite back up, allowing me to explore more of the local foods for lunch and dinner.

Although I am still eating a lot of greasy vegetables with rice, prospects are high.  Carol, one of the Chinese students here, suggested I try to Muslim cafeteria because they may have more vegetarian options.  I even found a vegetarian restaurant in the More Hangzhou magazine that I am excited to try in the near future.  Slowly but surely, I am building up a new vegan food repertoire here in Hangzhou.


I am currently doing my laundry, and after that I plan on going out with others to the silk area of Hangzhou.  We are then planning on going to Thousand Island Lake tomorrow - so after this weekend I might have more exciting things to share!

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